Relative Intelligence

I would like to comment on the beautiful op-ed written by Rabbi Shafran (“Minding Our A.Q.s and M.Q.s,” Features, January 9, 2019). Rabbi Shafran’s understanding of what happened with Dr. Watson’s great scholarship is amazing. The way he was treated after his research on intelligence because he was not politically correct was truly insulting and lacked genuine research. This psychologist and many others, who have tested hundreds if not thousands of public-school students, is quite aware of the learning and executive functioning of different populations. Whether the result of environment, family, genetics or the lack of a father figure in the home, Watson’s research is as true today as it was when he conducted it many years ago.

In a similar vein, an article of mine that was published in the Jewish Observer (“The Unexceptional Failure: A Plea for Average Children in Yeshivos,” September, 1980) points out the problems that yeshivah children with average intelligence quotients have. As stated, “they are somehow left out of the yeshivah/Bais Yaakov success story,” being that the average IQ of 90–110 is one step below that of the average yeshivah child.

These boys and girls would be big success stories in public-school classes, yet they often are looked on as failures in the regular yeshivah elementary and high schools. This, of course, leads to many other problems for these students in their social and emotional lives many years later.

Especially important is understanding the normal curve that applies to height, weight and intelligence, which is without a doubt true for the American population.

We need to recognize this and work with these children in regular classes that are smaller-sized, with Rebbeim and teachers who know how to teach the positive and avoid the negative. In that way, these students will feel secure and knowledgeable for what they can achieve, rather than be “the outcast in the class.”

Rabbi Dr. Joel S. Rosenshein